From a plugged-in reader happily ensconced in San Francisco’s Visitacion Valley:

Nine safe years in my 1907 Victorian across 101 on Goettingen Street. Bay Views, Mountain View, ten minute walk to McLaren Park, one of the city’s most under-appreciated amazing parks.

The demographic of [Visitacion] Valley, which is just over the highway from 101, is diverse in a way you find in few SF neighborhoods. And so much change is afoot in this neighborhood. Yes, we are lacking the services I’d like to see, but it’s remarkable how the dark and scary attitude about southeast SF is shared by folks, generally living north of Cesar Chavez, that have never bothered to explore the area.

The city is only about 160 years old, and change is coming–what Cortland avenue on Bernal was 15 years ago will be Leland Street in Vis Valley in not too many years.

New Twist: The First Resale Short Sale At Candlestick Point – The Cove [SocketSite]
Welcome to John McLaren Park []
Unlocking The Potential Of Visitacion Valley: The Former Schlage Site [SocketSite]

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by fluj

    Cortland 15 years ago, huh?
    I don’t think that’s what he meant? Cortland 15 years ago was kind of rough.

  2. Posted by sf

    What services are lacking exactly? There is a brand new MUNI metro train that runs through there. Perhaps killing off the gang members qualifies as a ‘service.’

  3. Posted by Zig

    The new T line is a joke for commuting but what will be great is after the new development is built in Viz Valley and they have the Caltrain electified and tunneled to downtown there will be true rapid mass transit access to downtown.
    Maybe 20 years from now

  4. Posted by Libertarian

    doesn’t matter how you spin it, it is still a bad area of the city. The new hunters point development will def help, but I would say the area is 10 yrs out from being a truly desirable neighborhood.

  5. Posted by Dan

    I started spending time on Cortland Street 13 years ago, and it wasn’t rough by then. Liberty Cafe, Progressive Grounds, Good Life organic grocery, and Wild Side West were all there then and now.
    Of course, there’s been quite a bit of gentrification in the ensuing 13 years.

  6. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    I dunno about Viz Valley, but Portola is definitely coming up. San Bruno is one of San Francisco’s most under appreciated commercial strips. Good pho, excellent cheap Chinese food and the best BBQ in town. The neighborhood is very diverse but still has it’s rough edges.
    Goettingen is over near Portola and is probably one of the best blocks in VV. I would not want to live anywhere near Sunnydale. Once the Schlage Lock Factory is cleaned up and the land put to some other use, and the projects Hope SF’ed, then the neighborhood will turn around, but probably not before then.

  7. Posted by JOE Leland

    Thanks you Socketsite for taking a minor departure from your format and allowing a brief comment regarding Visitacion Valley, a community that is often overlooked but has several major development proposals in the pipeline. I hope the editor will keep regular visitors posted as these projects move from concepts to reality.
    It goes without saying that every neighborhood in SF is unique and every neighborhood has its detractors and supporters. Vis Valley is no different in that respect. Those that live here love it.
    The only thing I can say to those that tend to pile on the negative comments would be to ask them to take the time to actually visit Visitacion Valley and not to rely solely on the media and police reports. Talk to the people you see. You might be surprised.

  8. Posted by Little Hollywood Devotee

    Moved to little Hollywood eight years ago. Native San Franciscan. Grew up in Pacific Heights, Twin Peaks. Got into a rent control apartment in Glen Park and waited forever to buy a property. Got priced out of everywhere and then discovered Little Hollywood. Love it here. Great weather. Love our house. Would have spent more for a place in other neighborhoods and gotten a house we liked a lot less.

  9. Posted by snark17

    Is it the same story with the Excelsior?? I am a first time home shopper and there seem to be a lot of great houses in the 600-700K range, reduced significantly from 2007. Also the area is close to BART and the shops on Mission Street.

  10. Posted by bayviewwhiteguy

    Yes yes I concur. The broader “neighborhood” southeast of the 280 is probably not at the top of people’s list of where they would ideally like to live. But it is also far better living here than I thought and what is often put forth by many of the comments on this site.
    If you want a house, have less than a $600,000 +/-budget, want to be in SF, and prefer sun, this is where you have to be.
    It is getting better, there are people of all ethnic groups, and even gay 30 something white people like me who are moving in, cleaning it up, and ultimately demanding more services from the city and private businesses.
    Hats off to the Bayview police station…I have been seeing many more uniformed officers walking and riding bikes and interacting positively with the public on 3rd Street. Terrific! Will it stop violent gang crime down by the projects….probably not. But I welcome seeing the men and women in blue. I would hope similar things are happening over in Vis. Valley on Leland.
    Look at the number of nice new restaurants, and even a hoity wine bar on 3rd street in the dogpatch area on the back of Potrero. Not far away from the center of Bayview. I think 3rd street will look something like Ocean Avenue in a few years. Not glamourous, but a nice safe and convenient area for shopping, dining, and essential to a “neighborhood”
    We will probably see two steps forward and one step back for a while with the current economic climate and city’s budget in crisis.
    But if you are thinking of investing in a home and “could I live there?”….come check it out.

  11. Posted by Zig

    I wouldn’t have a problem living in Viz Valley but I am not sure I would want to raise my kids out there
    And I say this as someone who knows people who grew up out there and people who teach out in the area. (One is Viz and one in Crocker Amazon)
    Its a tough place to grow up. Public High School is out of the question if you are white

  12. Posted by sf

    I live on the edge of McLaren Park. The Visitaction Valley neighborhood is nowhere near desirable. I am here because I had no other choice. The ‘park’ is nothing but a gang war zone. I remember my first walk through there (also my last) noticing the red and blue spray paint insignia everywhere, red and blue beanies hanging from tree tops when I looked up (gang markers), as well as police cars parked and hiding out everywhere, as well as off road motorcycle cops speeding through the terrain. The constant gunshots I hear about every 2 or 3 nights. Sirens are constant after the sun goes down. I swear it is like Bagdad out there. Also, the roads out here through Mansell street are in the worst condition I have witnessed in SF (and that is saying a lot!) I am also very conscious to not wear blue or red, or any other colors for that matter, dressing myself in brown khakis with a tan or black polo shirt every single day. Oh, and there was a 15 year old boy shot to death at 12:30 PM on Mansell and Somerset last week. Just my observations. IMO the least desirable area in the city, but would still rather live here than any other city in the Bay, or country for that matter.

  13. Posted by curmudgeon

    I did a lot of work about 10 years ago in Viz Valley on parks issues. There are a lot of local heroes in the community who love it there and invest incredible time and effort to improve it. The Visitacion Valley Greenway is a really cool community generated greening project, and the same folks who did that have been the force behind doing something good with the Schlage factory site.
    I agree that when Schlage gets torn down and redeveloped, the community may see a real renaissance. Even better if Sunnydale is successfully redeveloped. Honestly, Sunnydale is the one blight on the community. The rest of Viz Valley is a hard working, racially-mixed, relatively peaceful place.

  14. Posted by Libertarian

    if it really makes people who live @ VV feel better, I’ll lie and say its a great place to live.
    The fact of the matter is, people who live there because affordability. The economics of neighborhood selection isabout how to get the most out of one’s budget. So naturally those who can’t afford to live in the downtown luxury cluster (st regis, ritz, 4seasons, the milennium, 74 new mint), PAC and presideo heights, telegraph and Russian hill, and noe will want people to believe that VV is a good neighborhood.
    Understandable, but that’s not really fooling anyone who can afford and rather live in the more affluent parts of the city.
    That said, it is true that money isn’t the only ingredient for happiness and it is totally possible to be happy living anywhere. My point is not to belittle the happiness of those living @ VV but rather to illustrate and counter that VV isn’t a good neighborhood and that it is often economic necessity that propel people to live in the “best” area they can afford, which may I’d may not impact one’s happiness.

  15. Posted by Boo

    My only experience in this hood was working doing some community service work in the park replanting and weeding on a Saturday, after which I went for a run in the area. I went through areas on the west, north and northeast sides of the park and felt like it was a pretty safe/nice area and I liked the park too. Then I got in my car and drove through the park and came out on Sunnydale and I knew I hit the hood that people talk about when they say bad things about this area. I’m a white guy and I happened to be bangin some hip hop in my car and got some funny looks cruisin through there. I had to laugh at myself.
    That being said, cheers to those who posted above that live near here and had positive things to say about the area. I think that kind of attitude creates huge amounts of potential for the future.
    As far as your post Libertarian, thank you Captain Obvious! Affordability forces those with less to live in less desirable areas? That is an acute observation. But at least you don’t crap on them for trying to maintain a positive attitude about it. Very big of you. But you did have to say that you think the area is a bad place to live. Hope that helps you feel good about where you live.

  16. Posted by Libertarian

    totally agree that positive attitude will go a long way to improve any neighborhood, but a bad neighborhood is just a bad neighborhood. In time it will improve a bit… The prb is indeed the projects in that area and all around the city. It would be great to build projects out in Stockton and move the inhabitants there and out of the prime real estate of SF. It just make economic sense.

  17. Posted by BernalDweller

    So, Libertarian, you would like to force the poor to move so that the well-off can have the “prime real estate” to themselves? Whom else would you like to ship out to Stockton? And, pray tell, what’s the income cutoff?

  18. Posted by VV Resident

    Hey–thanks for posting my comment and the space for discussion about VV and environs!
    I understand why people are getting down on the neighborhood–and Sunnydale is indeed a major problem. The crushing effects of poverty on the health of the community give rise to gangs and other negative side effects that leave many questioning why anyone would live out here. Even so, this is a community worth putting the energy into, and that goes for Excelsior, Portola, and other areas of southeast SF. Yes–economics prompted our move to VV–I didn’t even really know where the neighborhood was before that, and it was far from a first choice. But now I am happy to know the neighbors I know, to have discovered a completely different side of SF, and to be participating in community processes that are envisioning a future that breaks with the cycles of the past. And I disagree with the fearful portrayal of McLaren. Maybe I’m blind and gang warfare is more prevalent up there than I realize, but Bagdhad? Really? I mean, bad can happen to you in Alamo Square or Goledn Gate Park! What I see: seniors out doing Tai Chi in the morning, scads of dog walkers and some of the best dog running in the city, complete with a reservoir that dogs can swim in; a diverse terrain from woods to wildflower meadows to ridges with stunning Bay and City views and occasional glimpses of wildlife, musical performances in the amphitheater, families grilling on weekend picnics in the many picnic areas, and more.
    At any rate, the Vis Valley Watershed will be a very different place in 10 years and beyond from what we see today–and for the cost-conscious searching for a place to settle in the fabric of SF, I still think the neighborhoods surrounding McLaren will give you by far the most bang for the buck.
    I also acknowledge my comment about Cortland/Leland was off, and meant to express that, as Cortland has changed, so will Leland and Bayshore in VV. Come check out the Street Fair on Leland in September if you want a “safe” intro to the neighborhood!

  19. Posted by Libertarian

    I think the city can best serve those who contribute to the tax base by removing those who needs to b subsidized. It is unfair for people who work had and I middle class to not be able to live in parts of the city that I currently occupied by the dead weight of society. Those who require subsidy in order to stay in the city should just move to where they can afford to live and thus stop being a burden on others in SF who are hard @ work to make the city their home.
    as for income level, we’ll let the market decide. Those who get priced out will be the ones I suggest to be Stockton bound.

  20. Posted by jimmythekidsf

    Every mourning I see elderly Asian folks and dog walkers in Mclaren Park. The person who claims it is a war zone for gang bangers is either ignorant of the facts or a liar(it is possible that he is both)
    SS is a site for snobs. Every post is the same if it ain’t pacific heights the SS crowd is afraid of getting raped or killed. There are only about 100 murders a year. You are far more likely to be killed in a car wreck than be a victim of murder. Put your fears in perspective.
    In fact i’d go as far to say that the SS crowd are not just snobs but apparently a bunch of pu____s as well!

  21. Posted by mrbogue

    right on jimmythekid, tell it like it is!

  22. Posted by Libertarian

    now that’s some neighborhood pride…
    Snobs or no snob, p**** or even more p**** 🙂
    I think the pride that each group has for their neighborhood is exactly what the city needs to improve all the diff neighborhoods in this 7×7 land mass.
    Tho diff income level and economic situation does exist in diff neighborhoods and is the primary driver when it comes to selecting where to live. There is no doubt that VV will one day end up to be a nicer neighborhood.
    but becareful what you wish for… Once the neighbor gets safer and better, housing cost will go up and those who can’t afford it will be pushed even further…

  23. Posted by Homeless Guy

    Shot to death for nothing on the streets of S.F.
    (06-23) 17:51 PDT SAN FRANCISCO — It was a minor traffic annoyance, something that happens every day, everywhere.
    But in San Francisco on Sunday, it triggered an outburst of road rage that cost the lives of a father of four and his oldest son, and left his youngest son clinging to life.
    …on narrow Congdon Street in the Excelsior district.
    Please pray for the one who lost their love one.

  24. Posted by anonfedup

    “Shot to death for nothing on the streets of S.F.”
    That article is worth reading! Sunday afternoon, 2pm, a father driving his children home from a family lunch, not in any way trying to cause trouble, is shot because he did not move his car out of the way fast enough? Thanks to “Homeless Guy” for mentioning this article.

  25. Posted by leland ave

    I am a college student who moved to VV in a pinch because my old building, in the up and coming NoPa area, was sold. I had lived in sf for about 5 years before moving to this area, and must admit, I had no desire to visit the dangerous area know for gang violence and the infamous Sunnydale Projects. Now that I live here I don’t think that this neighborhood is any less safe than any other place I’ve lived. I’ve never heard a gunshot and never felt threatened or unwelcome. It’s frustrating for me to read comments like some of the above from uninformed and clearly biased people who only hear about our ngighborhood on tv.
    I do have one complaint: We have no grocery stores!

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